Being depressed makes us vulnerable, especially in the area of romance. When we're depressed, we feel lonely, and it seems like we're the only ones feeling this way. It's like the world is moving around us and doesn't even know we exist. So when someone notices us and speaks words of kindness, we are drawn to them like moths to a flame.
It's a great thing to have friends who love us through our pain. However, it's not so great when those friends turn out to be people who are taking advantage of our vulnerability. That's why I'm wanting you to watch Kayleigh's story. She thought the person she had met online was her "soulmate" - someone who appreciated her for who she was. Unfortunately, she found out that he was someone dangerous.
Please, friends, don't let your vulnerability cloud your thinking. Stay safe out there.
Tolerance begins at home
Is it possible to bully someone without saying a word? I find myself wondering that today, and I keep landing on the same answer: yes. In fact, I think it's one of the cruelest forms of abuse I've seen, as it cuts at the core of every human's need to be acknowledged, accepted, and loved.
Over the Christmas holiday, I watched an entire family ignore one of their family members. This young man sat on the couch for most of the day, quietly watching the other family members hug and talk to one another. He sat there for hours without any interaction. In the past, this family has justified their treatment of this relative by saying no one likes him. He's weird. He's different. He doesn't fit in with the family. He's always been strange. They end their conversation with the phrase, "It's so sad." I guess that's the one thing on which we all agree. It is so sad. It's so sad seeing someone who has been through a lot of trauma get treated cruelly by his family.
I've tried giving them the benefit of the doubt. I've tried telling myself that maybe they've forgotten that holidays bring back memories of dead relatives, and they didn't realize he was feeling sad and wishing he could celebrate with his father one more time. Or perhaps they didn't take time to consider he was looking forward to seeing his family and having a warm, happy experience.
But should those things really matter? Doesn't every human being deserve to be spoken to politely and shown warmth over the holidays from their family members? Especially from family members who complain loudly about the intolerance of the future President Trump?
I'm not sure this family's definition of tolerance matches my own. However, there is one thing I'm sure about. Tolerance begins at home, and it starts with being kind to family members, even those who think and act differently than the rest of their family. Kindness trumps hate everywhere, even at home.
Keep Trying, Keep Trying, Keep Trying
As the sea, life has a way of turning tumultuous when we're least expecting it. And like ships, we can be left adrift, feeling alone in a sea of people and wondering if anyone understands.
Under such circumstances, it would be tempting to capsize and stay hidden until the storm has passed. But if we're lucky, very, very lucky, someone will draw alongside and help us keep trying.
Tremendous strength can be found in the try...
...in the stepping out of bed, when you'd rather stay hidden.
...in the putting one foot in front of the other, when you can hardly think.
...in the doing the right thing, when you know it will be hard.
...in the holding onto hope, when you've been hurt to the core.
Something beautiful and powerful is happening in this try. It is pushing you forward. It is getting you closer to the shore. It is changing things little by little.
Little steps are good. Little steps are life-changing.
So keep trying, my friend, keep trying.
It's Okay to Have Bad Days
Days like today are hard.
Worries and insecurities are pushing their way into my thoughts, and I just wish I could stay in bed.
I don't feel like talking to anyone.
I don't feel like thinking about things.
I don't feel like facing the day.
But despite how I feel, I somehow manage to get up.
I do my chores. I send a text. I write.
And although I don't feel as strong as I'd like to feel, I'm fighting the fight.
Because regardless of how bad things get, a bad day does not make a bad life.
And it's the doing of these little things - in the midst of my bad day- that will eventually make me strong.
So I press on.
It's okay to have bad days, friends, everybody does.
What matters most is how we face them.
Depression can make you feel like you're the only one suffering. It can make you worry that something is wrong with you, since others don't seem to be having the same problems. But depression affects many people, as this cartoon shows. You are not alone.
Passing the Baton of Hope
I'm not a runner, but I wish I were.
I see others sprint by with ease, and I wonder why it's so easy for them and so hard for me? I continue on, but my heart begins sinking.
It's too hard.
I'll never make it.
Why even try?
Sometimes there's days when my life feels the same, days where I struggle to make it. I get distracted when I should focus. I make mistakes I wish I could undo. I get overwhelmed by the obstacles life throws me.
Tears flow easily as I notice my failures growing while others glide by.
Life isn't turning out as I'd hoped.
Then something wonderful happens. Someone falls in step alongside and passes their baton of hope. Their words of encouragement and advice lift my spirits, as well as my determination. I match their stride, step by step, courage slowly building. It feels good to be running together.
Tears flow once more as I realize the value of their gift:
If they can overcome their obstacles, so can I.
I keep running, pushing through the hard parts; and as I do, it begins getting easier. I smile as I hear the footsteps next to mine. It feels secure having someone run alongside, and their words of hope and strength encourage me.
Oh, how important it is to help each other.
I think about others who may be struggling, and I begin looking.
Is there someone out there who needs my baton?
I just ate a slice of watermelon, and what a disappointment it was! My watermelon had lost its flavor. I guess I should have expected it. It had been hidden in the back of the refrigerator for a couple of days.
That's how it works, right? Things unused lose their effectiveness.
An unused car doesn't start.
Unused muscles waste away.
Unused leather gloves grow stiff.
It's funny how many principals in our physical world teach us about the principals in our spiritual world.
When we isolate ourselves in our bedrooms, the same thing happens to our lives: They lose their "flavor."
Our lives are made for us to live.
We have an innate need to connect with other people.
The less we do this, the more lonely we become, and the worse our quality of life becomes. As my grandma used to tell me, "We reap what we sew." If we're putting ourselves in lonely, isolated places, we will feel more lonely and isolated. And according to scientists, this leads to all sorts of mental and physical problems.
So how do we turn our lives around if we're stuck in a place of not wanting to engage with others?
The first step is to get small doses of positive interactions, like little doses of medicine for our souls. We can say to someone, "Isn't it a great day?" (Yes, even if we don't feel like it) or "Hey, I like your shirt." Their positive answers will make us feel better. We should do this every day.
Slowly, over time, those minutes will add up and we'll begin to feel more like venturing out. Our lives won't be hidden any more and they will slowly be filled with moments we can savor.
Please Don't Give Up!
I'm 14. I've been depressed for months now. Everything I look at, I just always think, "I could die with that."
I've been wanting to die.
I don't really want to live. I know I don't.
My ex-boyfriend broke up with me when I first started getting depressed, and all my friends left me.
I don't really talk to anyone anymore because I don't know what to do. Most of the time I just sit in my room alone and listen to music. There are many days that it helps, but not lately.
I don't sleep more then 3 hours in a night. Most of the time I don't sleep at all. I'm up crying and begging God to take me. Begging Him to let me free of this painful life. Nothing's been the same and it doesn't help that I'm losing a lot of the people who I really, really care about.
I don't want to go through with this pain anymore. But I'm giving up. I've lost hope in ever getting better. I can't really tell how I feel most days. The biggest feeling I ever have is sad and it's a constant sadness.
It doesn't ever go away.
Nothing makes me happy anymore.
I can't even make myself happy.
I'm going to a counselor, but... it doesn't seem to be working.
My dear, hurting friend. Please don't give up.
This pain won't last forever. It will get better, even though you don't feel like it will.
Those of us who have been through this before are reaching out to you. Take our hand and let us help you hang on.
We know how you feel. You feel less than.
Less than pretty enough.
Less than good enough.
Less than capable enough of hanging on for one more day.
But we are here to let you know that you are more than.
More than pretty with the special characteristics that are uniquely you.
More than good enough for people to love.
More than capable of walking through the darkness and coming out the other side a stronger person.
You are crying to God and begging Him to take you, but let's change that prayer. Close your eyes and ask Him to show you how much you are loved. Because you are. You are loved more than you know.
Believe me. I know what I'm talking about. I've been there, my friend.
Please be courageous- wind our stories of hope around your hand and let them help you hang on.
You matter to us!
Whatever you need to get better- please search for it.
We'll be here through all of it.
You are too important to lose.
Sometimes things happen to us that make us feel broken and dirty. They make us think we've lost our value and our lives are damaged forever.
That's a lie, my friends. As a reader tells us below, nothing can reach deeply enough to damage the value and beauty we have hidden within.
I am now 14 years old, and I have been through a lot..
When I was 5, I was touched by my cousin, and not in a very good way. It continued for 8 years, and I didn't do anything about it, because I didn't really know what it was.
When I was 9 years old, a similar thing happened. I didn't tell anyone about it because I was embarrassed to. I was mocked and criticized by all my friends and even the teachers because I was so thin, and that I'll "fly away" if the wind blows too hard. So I started to fit in, and be like everybody else because I was scared of not being accepted.
I started judging people, being mean to them, things I can't think of doing now. And then everybody started being mean to me for no reason, people started abandoning me and ignoring me even though I cared a lot for them and was always there for them.
Nobody knows the truth.
Not my parents, family, friends, or best friends.
I don't want them to know me in that way. I guess that's why I haven't told anyone, aside from the fact that I'm scared about how they'll react.(Is that right?)
But what I've learned is that the past doesn't matter. The future is spotless, and that anything is possible.
And no matter how mean people can be, it really doesn't say anything about you; it says everything about them. And I've also learned that everybody should be who they are, and wear what they like, and not care if they're fat or skinny, because true beauty lies within.
A word of love for the writer of this message:
You are wise beyond your years, my friend, and I am touched by your willingness to reach out and help others. My heart aches when I think of the shame and pain you've endured quietly. You are so right when you say that your circumstances say more about them than about you. I've heard your story, and I see nothing dirty or shameful about you. I see a strong young lady who has had the courage to endure things that should never happen to a little girl.
Reaching out and talking about it is the first step of real healing. My advice to you is to tell a trusted adult. You need to find someone who can help guide you through the healing process. It may be painful at first, but every time you go to heal wounds, it hurts. Don't worry. The ugliness of what was done to you is not a reflection of who you are. You are strong. You have the true beauty of compassion inside you. You can do this.
I'm sending you hugs, my friend. Stay strong.